With lockdowns, political paralysis, physical separation from friends and family we want to hold, it’s…
By Suzanne Ganzak Carnill
After meeting Happiness Walker Paula Francis on my home turf in Florida in 2015, I was determined to join her on the Walk. My goal was September 2016 in New Mexico.
But how to prepare? I have always been a walker. I have walked several 1/2 marathons, most under three hours. But, this was different. Day after day walking 17, 19 or even 23 miles. That thought added to my anxiousness about training. I knew I could do three continuous days. It was that fourth, fifth and sixth day I had questions about. Therefore, building my stamina was my biggest goal.
I joined a gym in February. On the treadmill I started with four miles on the rolling hills setting at 3.5 miles per hour. It was nice and easy. I had my new Ipod (over 4,000 songs). I would plug in and let the music take me over. Upon completion of my walking, I did about a half hour of various core strengthening exercises. I also added the leg machines. For about two months, I spent an hour and a half at the gym four or five times a week.
By May, I upped my miles per hour to 4.5, always remaining walking. I felt that was very important. To walk. I still added a half hour of core and leg exercising. Now, though, I added more: golfing. I went to the range three times a week in the evening shooting a bucket of 180 balls. I was then playing 18 holes on Sundays without the cart, walking. I would go to the gym later in the afternoon on Sunday and do only 2 miles on the treadmill plus 15 minutes of core exercises. Remember — I was trying to build endurance. On Saturdays I went to the gym for approximately 2 hours, then back home where I mowed the front and back lawn. My weekends were full. It got to be a personal challenge to see how much I could do in a single day.
In June I began using the incline setting on the treadmill. I started at 10% incline doing four miles at 3.8 miles per hour. Within the month I was doing at least the first two miles at 15% incline but I was slowly upping the miles per hour. Now sometimes I would run 15% incline at 5.4 miles per hour. I had to hold on but I did it. I was still doing the half hour of core strengthening – plus! 15 minutes on the bike.
I continued like this for a month or two. I was still going home on Saturday and cutting my front grass and back grass. But, now added doing my neighbors lawn to my routine. I would also do regular errands like grocery shopping and the like. Then I would take a shower and go to Church in the evening. I wanted to see how long I could last. I kept this routine up as regular weekend actions for the next three months until I left for New Mexico. I would sometimes do 6 miles at 15% incline at 4.5 miles per hour. I was trying to keep in mind that Paula was walking regularly everyday sometimes doing 29 miles in a day. I did not want to bog her down or embarrass myself.
I am also a licensed massage therapist, so on top of all of this, I was doing between 5 and 8 massages five days a week. I would go to the gym Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I made Saturday, Sunday and Monday, my heaviest days. Wednesday and Friday I usually spent an hour and half at the gym.
I know it sounds like a lot but it got to be a fun routine. I started making a game out of it to see how much I could accomplish in a day. I was challenging myself to keep pace with a woman who walks seven days a week, five to seven hours every day. I really looked forward to my workouts and still do. My weekend is planned around my trips to the gym. I feel great and look healthy. I eat good food and have a fun active life. And now I am a HAPPINESS WALKER and could not be more impressed with my recent accomplishment of 167 miles in 10 days.